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How your posture is causing your neck pain and headaches

Did you know that something as simple as correcting your posture could help prevent your headaches and neck pain? 

 Posture refers to how we sit, walk, run, stand, lie down and work. In other words, it’s the positions we put our body in everyday and how those positions impact our body’s functioning. 

A common poor posture experienced by many is called upper crossed syndrome. Most often we find ourselves in this posture when sitting at a desk, using our computers or using our phones. 

 In upper crossed posture the shoulders are rolled inwards and the head is placed in a forward flexed position, putting extra pressure on the vertebrae, intervertebral discs and joints of the spine and forcing the surrounding muscles of the neck and shoulders to work harder to hold the head up. 

In the correct position, the average adult head weighs 8kg, but for every inch the head is flexed forward, an additional 4.5kg of weight is felt on the cervical spine.  This means if a person is looking down at a 45degree angle to text, the head is felt to weigh approximately 23kg – That’s nearly 3x more pressure on the neck and shoulders! 

Over time, the body tries to adapt to this unnatural head position causing people with poor neck posture experience the following symptoms: 

  • Neck pain –Pain can be the feeling of general aches and tension or it can be sharp and intense
  • Restricted neck movement 
  • Pain and tension in between the shoulder blades
  • Headaches– spinal segments can refer up into the head causing dull pain and the feeling of tightness or pressure. 
  • Nerve pain– This can be the feeling of pins and needles or numbness and tingling down the arm
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
     

    50-75% of people who experience neck pain once are likely to experience repeated episodes, so it’s important to improve your posture and spinal health. Some simple changes you can make to your daily activities and lifestyle include: 

  • Pay attention to your desk set up– Most people spend the majority of their day seated at a desk, so good desk ergonomics are important. Position your computer screen an arms distance away from you at eye level and place the keyboard and mouse no more than half an arms distance away, using them with your arms at a 90degree angle by your side.
  • Move around – Change positions and move around as much as possible to prevent muscle overuse. At a minimum, get up and move once every hour. A standing desk is a good option to ensure you continue to use different muscles throughout the working day. 
  • Stretch daily –Stretching helps to keep muscles flexible and loose. 
  • Use a headset – For people who spend a lot of time making phone calls, a headset will prevent you from tilting your head to one side or cradling your phone in your neck 
  • Carry correctly – Carry heavy objects close to your body rather than with outstretched arms
  • Use a backpack – Unlike satchels and handbags, backpacks help to distribute the weight across both shoulders to help prevent tilting and slouching. 

     

    Chiropractors are trained to assess and help treat neck pain and headaches. 

    They can also help give more specific advice on desks, chairs, mattresses, pillows and exercises you can perform to help further improve your posture. 

    Talk to one of our experienced chiropractors today if you would like more information.